In this month's (January 2006) Harvard Business Review there are a whole series of articles on decisions and decision-making. You can see the table of contents on the site. I will write something about a number of these articles over the next week or so as decisioning is something close to my heart. It also reminded me about a great article published some time ago in HBR by a colleague of mine - Little Decisions Add Up - on Decision Yield.
The first one I would like to cover is this - Who Has the D? Now those of you without subscriptions will only be able to see the abstract on the link - sorry. This article is a fascinating look at how organizations can become more decisive.
A couple of quotes seem to me particularly relevant if one is considering how Enterprise Decision Management can make an organization more decisive.
The authors outline an approach called "RAPID" - Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, and Decide.
I liked this approach with its clear definition of roles - who recommends action, who has to agree, who has input and who actually makes the decision. EDM comes into play on the Perform item. What happens if the role "perform" is not played by a person, but by a computer system e.g. a website or automated origination system? What happens if the decision must be performed when no-one is available or must be performed by someone brand new to the organization and in a low-paying job like CSR? In those circumstances, unless you are taking an EDM approach, the effective management of the other four roles will not help all that much. The failure to perform will undermine everything. EDM gives you the framework you need to deliver on the Perform step even in these circumstances.
Some decisions matter more than others...the critical operating decisions that drive the business day to day and are vital to effective execution.
The fact that operational decisions - individually small but large in number - matter as much or more as low volume strategic decisions is often overlooked. Lots is written about how to make better strategic decisions but it was refreshing to see the authors also focus on the bread-and-butter decisions that drive a company's interactions with its customers, partners, suppliers etc. EDM is focused on these decisions and on improving their precision, consistency and agility.
Speed and adaptability are crucial.
Indeed. One of the key tenets of EDM is that it is not OK to sacrifice speed and agility (adaptability) to get better or more precise decisions. The modern business environment simply does not allow this. You must build decision-making processes, and decision-making systems, that deliver agility as well as precision. This is why EDM approaches leverage business rules management systems.
Finally, to close, I really like this statement:
"A good decision executed quickly beats a brilliant decision implemented slowly"
Couldn't agree more.